In July 2017. The Bollinger Club made a suggestion via Social Media for feedback about a registration fee for shows. Little did The Bollinger Club know that this was the evening there was a conspiracy to kill the club. We interview James Bollinger for his story…..
Many promoters/performers were talking about how sad it was that shows were being cancelled because of low ticket sales and how slow things where. Questions were being asked for ideas on how promoters could keep the money flowing and the shows alive.The less well known performers (as I refuse to refer to them as Newbies) need a hand up in getting stage experience and promoted. It is these people that are the very back bone of Burlesque. They perform for passion and fun. They come from all walks of life, some struggle for that much needed stage time and The Bollinger Club gave them the opportunity. But on the 6th of July 2017 The Bollinger Club floated the idea similiar to other events of a small fee (admin/registration fee) being paid by Performers no more than the audience ticket price which would would be refundable upon ticket sales hitting targets like other promotions charge with no refund The Bristol Burlesque Festival. Ibiza Burlesque Festivals.The Great Western and Cabaret Festival.
A few contacted the promotion privately giving their views some in favour some against. Fair enough and no hard feelings it was just an idea on how Burlesque could be saved for the many !!! Things were very sensible up until then.
Many of our readers would ask what would you do with the extra funds raised from the registration fee ?
That is a the golden question nobody has asked ! The idea is the registration fee may be refundable and only up to an audience ticket price. For example a registration fee of say £2.50 or £5 per performer would raise funds for advertising. The audience We attracted at Worthing was made up of fifty new people who lived locally and they had never seen Burlesque before. We had fifty people in attendance at the show, my aim would have been to attract another fifty and the registration fee would have been used to pay for advertising to achieve one hundred guests in attendance. If We had another fifty, that would total one hundred guests and raise £500. Now, for example deduct £100 for venue hire, £50 for advertising. That would leave £350 for a door split. So if you had ten performers that gives them £30 door split per performer plus £5 refunded registration fee. Nothing for the Promoter !!
It’s interesting earlier in the interview, you reject the term Newbie. Why ?
The term ‘Newbie’ is often used about performers who are new. But, I also found that a ‘Newbie’ is used to fill a gap in the schedule in a show or is sometimes an individual performer who does not get paid or receives financial compensation. I am not sure where the term comes from, but I am of the opinion it is used to apply to someone to categorise or suppress an individual from headlining or charging a fee in line with a performer who who can charge a fee because they have been on the scene longer performance abilities disregarded.
I think it is a complete nonsense, I have seen new performers who have performed as well as their contemporaries. So for me a ‘Newbie’ is manipulation of a performer. The general public will not know the difference. A ‘Newbie’ is there to assist in keeping more ‘senior’ performers safe from losing their fees, but at the end of it all no individual performer is bigger than Burlesque !
“There are promoters in absolute denial about their business situation.”
Cerise Mae ( Real Name:Natasha Jade Rothwell), Promoter of Cerise May Productions started the derogatory remarks around queuing up of performers and asked her ‘Facebook’ friends what they thought. The knives came out and the friends tagging came into force with further cyber-bullying of what was just an idea and for feedback. The Bollinger Club found all the comments coming in overwhelming as more and more of the so called community ‘weighed’ in. The Bullies’ post reached in excess of fifty six thousand people, 100 shares and 200 comments. We asked James what would be her motive ? ‘I am not sure as We have chatted privately and I have assisted in promoting her events. I read on Facebook She has suffered from mental health issues before.It may have something to do with her company Cerise Burlesque Ltd being dissolved on the 6th of June 2017 Companies House . It is another piece of compelling evidence that makes the case clear not only is the Burlesque industry in trouble, there are promoters in absolute denial about their business situation.’
“Every member of the audience was guaranteed a seat and a view.”
Next up with the cyber-Bullying comments was Dawn Gracie . The self proclaimed ‘Worthingite’ who by her own admission has lived in Chichester for twelve years running a bed and breakfast Northleigh Cottage made her opinion known to The Bollinger Club about using google images to promote an event on an open Facebook thread. We asked James Bollinger about the advice offered by Dawn. James said ‘ Of course Dawn can offer her advice, but it is not set in stone on how you promote yourself. We like to get our events out early so other shows in the area do not double book. We don’t necessarily book performers at the same time.
Dawn made references as with other facebook bullies that the Bollinger Club was ‘laughable’, do you agree with her ?
‘I don’t find it funny at all. The Bollinger Club offered a show that was accessible to all at £5 per head for a ticket in the heart of the Worthing community which is a charity run community centre. And We were proud to book performers from all areas including Disabilities, Queer, LGBT and POC. How many Promotions can make that claim ? Every member of the audience was guaranteed a seat and a view. ‘If She had any sincere advice to offer She should have arranged to meet us. I think Dawn needs to look at her shows as I have read reviews and know guests that have paid five times as much as my ticket price, don’t get a view and don’t get a seat, now that’s laughable !!’
The third instigator was Madeline Soleil (real name Sandra Shawyer) who did not delay in cyber bullying the suggestion, who can be quoted in Facebook’s South Coast Burlesque Society as ‘it’s been so disheartening the past few weeks hearing of shows having to cancel due to low ticket sales.’Of course I read this statement and took it seriously. Let me explain to the readers that We attended Madeleine’s Rock with the Foxes shows regularly. Two of the performers successfully applied to perform at our shows and just for the record Madeleine Soleil did not even show up to any of our shows to support her own performers !! Instead She elected to go to one of Dawn Gracie’s events on the same night. She even went further by making derogatory remarks on her profile page, which one individual asked her not to do .
The Herald noted also other ‘Foxes’ joined in with the bullying. James went on to explain ‘Clare Oram went on to making remarks, but I put this down to her not being selected to perform at one of our shows in her hometown of Portsmouth.’ However, She did attend our event in Portsmouth dressed inappropriately and watched our line up in awe. She also made a comment that I handed out flyers at one of the Foxes’ events, it was agreed prior that We would bring some to their shows and We would take some foxes’ flyers back with us to hand out at our shows and media.’
‘It is Ironic We attended a Rock with the foxes Newbie Event last year held in a Public House in Portsmouth and spoke to the Landlord. He told us about how unorganised they are under the stewardship of Madeleine and that on the very evening He had no prior knowledge if there was going to be a show. In fact He went on to explain there was no promotional flyers or posters on display in the pub in advance. I would like to clarify that this was an event where guests would make a donation after the show and then the money is divided up between the performers. It was evident that the promotion was poor as there were more performers then guests in the pub ! At the end of the evening a donation jug was passed round the pub for the show, I donated £20. They could not have raised much to pay the performers as the promotion was so poor !’
“I cannot remember which charity it was for, but there was no declaration online…….“
‘I even attended a Foxes’ event at Christmas time at The Buckland Community Centre in Portsmouth. There was a charity event being run and naturally I purchased some raffle tickets. I cannot remember which charity is was for, but there was no declaration online as to how much was raised. I find this odd !!’
James told the Herald, that He felt now He had seen the industry in its true colours. ‘I am so pleased that this is not our only income. Imagine if it was and just on one Facebook comment your business is discredited .My comment was conveniently taken out of context and organised into a drive against us on social media. I think these and other individuals need to take a long look at themselves and their behaviour. Not only have they damaged our brand ,they have not exactly put themselves in any great light or moral high ground. There are more cyber bullies and I have records of all of them, but these three are only some of the main instigators.’
“…the cheek of it….“
‘There was even a performer We had paid, who claimed We did not. Lady May (real name Natalie Booth) Lady May made the allegation during the viral thread. James said ‘I emailed Lady May explaining We had paid her fees to her agent even though She did not perform because of the show being cancelled.’ I offered in the email that I would meet her in London and show her the evidence that She was paid and whom it was too. Lady May needs to take her issue up with her agent.’How did you feel ? ‘I thought The Cheek of it !!! To date She has not replied to my email sent on the 8th of July 2017.’
We asked James what will happen to The Bollinger Club ?
I think there is no community for the concept to operate and it’s one more show that has gone to the wall and for the wrong reasons really. Many Promoters and Performers are in denial. They don’t want to look at the financial balance sheet and address it. They wish to ignore it. They know they are running at losses and their promotions are running financial losses. The demand from the public is not there. So instead of collectively looking to save Burlesque they look to save themselves. However, We have proved you can put on a show for a fair price with a guaranteed seat and view.Our Worthing show attracted fifty guests who had never seen a Burlesque performance before and our second Performance in Portsmouth attracted a similar number of guests who had never seen a Burlesque show before. We had 5 star reviews left by these guests too. We proved despite who you are you can perform without prejudice. But that did not wash with the establishment, who are only interested in the few and not the many.